How to Tell if Your Cosmetics Have Expired

Most women don’t realize that cosmetics expire and it is very important to get rid of old beauty products. Tossing out old cosmetics will help you get the maximum benefits and avoid serious rashes and infections.

The FDA does not regulate the expiration dates of cosmetics so you can not check for them on your products. Most experts agree that mascara lasts the shortest amount of time and is the most likely to cause infections such as pink eye.

When your cosmetics are opened and exposed to light this causes bacteria to start forming, which also decreases the effectiveness of the product.

Mascara should be tossed after about 3 months. Never keep mascara longer than 3 months and avoid pumping it because this pushes bacteria back into the tube. You can check your mascara by doing a sniff test. If you believe that the smell has changed since you last purchased it then it’s time to toss it. Keeping mascara out of heat and light will make it last longer. You can also wipe the brush off with a tissue after each use to help prevent the spread of infection. Never share your mascara with another person.

Heat can also damage creamy cosmetics such as eye shadows and lipsticks. If beads start forming after using these get rid of it. Heat can cause the oil to rise to the surface which makes it a bad idea to keep it. Older lipsticks that are exposed to extreme temperatures should be tossed to prevent bacteria from spreading. After a year of use you should replace all your lipsticks and lip gloss .

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Below are some basic expiration date guidelines for cosmetics.

  • liquid foundationicon, 3-6 months (Cream foundation, 4-6 months.) Bottled foundation should last about 3-6 months. It is time to replace it if the ingredients begin to settle or separate, the smell changes or the texture is different.
  • Concealer, lasts up to 6-8 mos.
  • powders, pressed powders, eye shadows and blush, 1 year.
  • Mascara, 3 months
  • Lipstick and lip gloss, 1 year
  • Eye/ lip pencils, 1 year. Make sure you sharpen your pencils at least once a week to prevent bacteria from spreading. If it is dry or crumbles you’ll know that the product has gone bad.
  • facial cleansersicon, 6 mos.
  • Toners, 1 year
  • Natural cosmetics, 6 mos (including “All Natural Body Washes.”) Natural cosmetics that contain plant-derived ingredients have a short shelf life because they are conducive to bacterial growth.

You also need to take care of your brushes and tools to avoid infection. Oils and bacteria can get trapped in the bristles of the brushes. Synthetic brushes should be washed once a week and natural- bristled brushes once a month. You can use mild soap or baby shampoo when washing your brushes.

Make-up sponges should be washed after each use and tossed after a month or if the brush tears.

When was the last time you organised your cosmetics?

*image courtesy of
**this post was originally published in 2010

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  • Anne , May 21, 2009

    Wow, I didn’t know any of this. I don’t wear makeup very often so I think all of my cosmetics are probably expired. Eeeek.

  • sheila , May 21, 2009

    I had no idea about light and creating bacteria. YUCKKKKKKKK

    Thanks for a very informative post. I shall pass this one on to my teens. GREAT post!

  • godsown , May 22, 2009

    Good to know this thanks!

  • Mama Notes , May 22, 2009

    oh goodness, I need to get rid of my mascara!!!

  • Secret Mom Thoughts , May 22, 2009

    Great information. Thanks.

  • Angie Marion , May 22, 2009

    Great tips! thanks for sharing! I’m a makeup junkie so I knew these but most people don’t, as you can tell!

  • Lisa , May 22, 2009

    great info, that is why many times if someone orders from me I don’t have the stock on hand because I want it to be fresh.

  • Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) , May 22, 2009

    I knew makeup could ‘expire’, but I had no clue of the particulars…thanks for the info, it’s obviously <>way<> past time to replace my mascara! 🙂

  • Maria@Conversations with Moms , May 22, 2009

    Oh Boy! i need to be doing a lot of cleaning out of my make-up bag. Thanks for this. Since I’ve been on maternity leave I haven’t worn a lot of make-up so a lot of them are no longer good according to your list.

  • Heart of Rachel , May 22, 2009

    This is very informative. Thanks for sharing. I have accumulated a number of lipsticks. I guess I have to get rid of some of them now. 🙂

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